Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an intelligent action ride. James Franco stars.

If Apes really did rise to greatness and surpass humans how would it really go down? Rise of the Planet of the Apes took that route instead of the Science Fiction direction that the Apes films normally take on.

The main ape is Caesar and he rises to greatness and has the most fleshed out character arc among all the actors.  Yes, Caesar is played by an actual actor, Andy Serkis, with the digital effects layered over him.  The performance is so great you can’t tell which is the actor and which is the digital effects.

The film could be a political statement about the suppressed rising above the others and taking over. The Apes have done just that and at a much quicker pace breaking out of the cages and putting the humans in there where they belong.

James Franco is the lead actor in this and does as good as a job as he can with what he’s given to work with.  The script keeps the human actors in the foreground while we focus more on the Ape that the James Franco character takes home and nurtures to power.

His father is played by John Lithgow who is battling Alzheimer’s and pretty much serves just that purpose and no other.

Tom Felton plays the mean ape keeper that harasses the chimpanzee’s in captivation which is never a good idea.

Freida Pinto who was in Woody Allen‘s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” played beautiful in that and she plays beautiful in this as James Franco’s girlfriend.

You first suspect that maybe she understands what’s going on with the Apes intelligence and will offer insight to the Franco character, but instead she turns out to be an observing bystander just like the rest of us.

This movie was more serious than the average entertaining blockbuster. It’s intelligent and I found myself routing for the Apes in the end and you will too.  When they rise and take revenge the film turns into a exceptional orchestrated climax that borders along the lines of a horror film, except in this, the humans have it coming.

**spoiler**

I’m sure there will be a sequel since in this one the Apes take over San Francisco by the end of the film and they have their eyes on an even bigger prize.  The World.

James Franco has grown into quite the serious actor over the last decade. He started out in films geared towards the young audience as a teen in a bit part in Drew Barrymore’s Never Been Kissed and then the high school heartthrob in Whatever it Takes.

Then he allowed his career to quickly take a serious turn to avoid becoming just another dumb teen actor.  He starred as James Dean in the TNT movie James Dean. He put on an explosive performance that garnered him a Golden Globe Award and got him noticed as a serious performer.

He was seen in the Spiderman Trilogy as Spiderman’s friend and then nemesis. He also played a prostitute in Sonny, a hilarious pothead in Pineapple Express, Harvey Milk’s boyfriend in Milk, the real life poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl, and the true story about a man trapped under a boulder in 127 hours, which gave him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor.  And now the Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

He’s also a director and writer and directed the true story about Sal Mineo in Sal.  He will be seen this year with Winona Ryder in the thriller “The Stare” about a playwright who begins to mentally unravel.  He is currently wrapping up the true biopic of Linda Lovelace in Lovelace as Hugh Hefner.  He’ll be starring alongside Amanda Seyfried who places Lovelace (the original casting idea was Lindsay Lohan,  but she’s proven unreliable and her public persona outweighs her acting talents)

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